Threatened school boosted by new report

A SECONDARY school threatened with closure has received a massive boost after Ofsted inspectors said it had “rapidly improved” since their last visit.

Elliot Furniss

A SECONDARY school threatened with closure has received a massive boost after Ofsted inspectors reported that it had “rapidly improved” since their last visit.

The Thomas Lord Audley School (TLA) in Colchester has been earmarked for closure by Essex County Council as part of a shake-up of secondary education in the town.

Council leader Lord Hanningfield has recently announced plans to close TLA, Alderman Blaxill and the Sir Charles Lucas schools and build an academy in their place on or near the Sir Charles Lucas site.


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But John Tippett, executive head at TLA, said the new report showed that progress was being made and said the school should be kept open.

Mr Tippett, who is also executive head at Alderman Blaxill and headteacher at the Stanway School, said: “How can you close a school like this? It's illogical. It's absolutely crucial that everybody needs to write to Lord Hanningfield and say 'what are you thinking about?

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The school was placed in special measures in November 2005 and Mr Tippett was appointed as executive head in January 2007 as part of a three-school federation with Stanway and Alderman Blaxill.

Later that month TLA was given a damning monitoring report by Ofsted. But Mr Tippett has overseen an improvement in standards and in September last year the school was taken out of special measures and given “notice to improve”.

The progress being made and the content of the latest Ofsted report, which has yet to be published, have now seen the end of the “notice to improve” status.

Inspector Rhona Seviour said in her report that the school had “rapidly improved” since its last inspection and that was attributable to the outstanding leadership of Mr Tippett.

She said: “In a relatively short time, he has gained the confidence of the pupils and, with the support of the staff and other senior leaders, he has brought about very significant improvement in all aspects of the school's work.”

This year, the proportion of TLA pupils achieving five or more A* to C grades at GCSE rose by 16% - the best results in the school's recent history and standards at the end of Year 11 are now much closer to the national average.

Mr Tippett said he remained convinced that the progress should be allowed continue at both TLA and Alderman Blaxill, which is set to be visited by Ofsted this month.

He added: “We're really pleased (with the report) and it's a real credit to the staff and students who have done such sterling work over the last 20 months. It's excellent news.

“There's nothing much we can do about it (the closure plans) except to say that the governors of all three schools have put forward their own proposal which is being called the fourth option.”

The “fourth option” would see Stanway, TLA and Alderman Blaxill merge to form one large school with Mr Tippett as head and the three senior teams continuing to run their current sites.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the county council said: “We are consulting on all the options, and have said that we happy to listen to any suggestions and ideas put forward.”

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